Our next event was the David Love Memorial Race at Sears Point Raceway outside Sonoma, CA. This is one of my favorite tracks and it really suits my 2002.
The weather was fantastic all weekend and the racing was some of the best I’ve had in quite a while. Thanks to Rob Fuller, Jim Froula, Troy Ermish, and the other racers in Group 8.
After practice and qualifying we had the Qualifying Race on Saturday afternoon. I had qualified 3rd for this race behind Mike Thurlow in his Corvette and Troy Ermish in his 510 Datsun. At the green flag Mike and Troy drove away from the rest of us but I had a great battle with a group of Datsuns lead by Jim Froula.
Jim chased me hard for the opening laps, then Michael Anderson got by him and brought Rob with him. Michael put on a lot of pressure but I was able to hold 3rd place until the checkered flag.
Sunday morning we all went down to pre-grid for the morning warm-up session and the CSRG folks informed us that this session would be a race that set the grid for the Feature Race later in the day. This took us all by surprise. I had planned to scrub some sticker tires for the Feature Race. Troy only put a few gallons of fuel in his car. It would be an interesting race.
At the green flag Mike disappeared in his Corvette but eventually pulled off because he didn’t have enough fuel to finish. Troy was having to short shift and coast to save fuel so he, Rob and I had a fun battle the entire race. Mike Korn came from the back and passed the 3 of us. I eventually finished 4th behind Mike Korn in his Chevy Beretta, Troy, and Rob but I turned my best lap of the weekend- 1:53.7.
The Feature Race was gridded by our best lap time of the weekend because of the confusion from the warm-up/race. That meant I started 3rd. Again, I had a great race with Rob and eventually finished 5th.
It’s been quite a while since I have posted anything. I apologize for that but it has been a very strange year for all of us. Plus I had some health issues this year that have reduced my energy.
Last march we weren’t sure if we would have any racing at all this season. Though several big events were canceled or re-scheduled we were finally able to attend 8 races and a track day out at ORP. We’ll review the first 3 in this post.
Our first event was the SOVREN Spring Sprints held at Pacific Raceways in Kent, WA. I will admit Pacific Raceway is not one of my favorite tracks. It is rough, narrow, and there is no run-off room. Because of these factors I’ve just never felt very comfortable racing there.
However, I was anxious to try the new motor and transmission combo in the Koepchen 2002 as well as the new seat in the Swift so Mary and I loaded the RV and headed up I-5.
It was a different kind of weekend for several reasons. First, it was the first race under the new COVID protocols which meant social distancing, masks, and extra paperwork. Second, SOVREN and SCCA shared the track for the weekend so we had a lot of different cars and classes at the track. It did make for some down time for us.
Saturday and Sunday had pretty good weather so I got some good seat time in both cars. I found the new engine and transmission combo to work very well together in the K2002. The power and torque were improved and complimented the closer ratios in the transmission.
The new bead seat in the Swift was a huge improvement for driver comfort. I now felt like I could actually drive the car closer to its limit.
Unfortunately the weather turned to rain on Monday so we packed up and came home early. Here’s the video from the weekend:
Our second event for the season was a track day out at Oregon Raceway Park in the high dessert of eastern Oregon. Its a 2.3 mile, highly technical track with lots of blind rises and blind apexes. It’s really a lot of fun to drive, but also very taxing.
We had a group of Racecraft friends and 8-9 cars out for the day of practice. It was a good chance to get some seat time. I was also getting some time on the new motor Terry Tinney built for the CSL. My friend, John Murray had purchased an ex-DTM MB 190 that he wanted to get familiar with.
The day began with a short track orientation with Bill Murray, the track manager. He helped us all a lot and made our day more productive and fun.
Following that we began taking our cars out for some runs. I began by taking the M3 out for a few laps. The last time I drove ORP was 5 years ago so I began slowly and built up speed as I re-familarized myself with the track.
Over the lunch hour our resident hooligan, John Hill, entertained us all. You’ll have to watch the video to see what he was up too. You won’t be disappointed.
I did get some time in the CSL but it was a lot of work on this track. The car is quite heavy to steer and as busy as this track is it gave me quite a workout.
John Hill had brought his Mitjet and he let me have some laps in it. The Mitjet is a tube framed race car much like a scaled down NASCAR car. It has a solid rear axel, a 2 liter Renault engine, sequential gearbox, and ABS brakes. John has raced it a couple of times in the 25 Hour race at Thunderhill, winning his class in 2019. It was nice of him to let me try it out.
Here’s the video from the day:
In July we were back at Pacific raceway for the PNW Historics. I had the K2002 and the Swift there again. The field of cars for this event was smaller than in years’ past but the racing was just as competitive as always.
The K2002 was in Group 2 which is mid-bore production cars and sedans. I had some great racing all weekend with Bruce McKean, Paul Gladio, Eric Smith, and Josh Moriarty.
Unfortunately I got a very nasty surprise in Race 4. Watch the video to see what happened.
The Swift ran in Group 6. There were only 8 cars in the group but I still had some great racing with John McCoy in his Mallock. He was much quicker tham me down the long straight but I was quicker under brakes and through the turns. It was a classic battle!
I thought I would update some of the projects we have going on with the cars this winter. Racecraft has been working hard on almost all of my cars. Here’s a rundown.
After 3 seasons it was time to freshen/rebuild the motor in the car. I had a spare motor which we sent down to Terry Tinney for some Tinney Performance magic and he delivered in spades! A few more HP’s and a little more torque. Thank you Terry!
I also had Racecraft install the Elite transmission I had purchased for Luigi but have since decided not to use in that car. The Elite is an exact copy of the ZF 5 speed transmission that was homologated for the 2002 back in the early 1970’s but with modern, stronger internals.
Getting it in the car required some modifications to the transmission tunnel and a new exhaust manifold for clearance. The car is all done and ready for our fist event next month.
The seat in the Swift is just the aluminum tub with a little bit of foam. It has never fit me well and the lack of support makes driving the car very uncomfortable. So we decided to fit a bean-bag seat in the car.
This type of seat is made up of tiny beads of foam that has epoxy resins added and then it is molded to fit my backside. Its a lengthy process but it works very well and the end result makes fitting in the car wonderful.
The only problem is I have to sit in the car for an hour without moving while the epoxy sets up. That is a small price to pay for the comfort I will have now. And that comfort should translate into lower lap times.We will be taking this car to the first race next month as well so I will know quickly if the new seat helps.
You may remember that at the Rolex Reunion last August we ended the weekend by finding bits of metal in the oil in Luigi. Fortunately we caught it in time to salvage the block and major internal bits.
The engine is currently down at Tinney Performance getting rebuilt. It should go smoothly as no major parts will be needed and the machine and porting work have all been done on the head and block.
#34 Hyde Park 2002
Unfortunately the #34 2002 was the victim of a brain slip by a Datsun driver at the Charity Challenge. The Datsun hit its LF wheel on the RR wheel of my car. When the tires touched the Datsun was lifted into the right side door, traveling down the side of the car and ripping the RF fender.
Fortunately we had a spare right side door, and the rest of the metal work was fairly minor. The fiberglass fenders were fairly easy to repair. The RR wheel was damaged but we were able to find someone who could repair it.
The car is now back from the paint shop ad ready to have the decals put on it and it will be ready for its first race at the David Love Memorial race in April.
Asahi Kiko M3
Unfortunately I had a brain fade at the Charity Challenge with the result that the front bumper was severely damaged on the M3.
Jim was able to find reproduction parts in New Zealand which we had air shipped to Seattle. Racecraft had to do some metal repairs to the supports and brackets, but that was about all.
The car is at the paint shop and should be done in a week or so.
The NSU is sitting out the first part of the season as Jay & Colin Ivey work on a fresh engine for it. They have torn the engine down and ordered parts from Germany. This is their first experience working on an NSU engine but are hopeful they can get it ready by mid-season.
Our first race is in just a couple of weeks down at Laguna Seca. We will be running 12-14 events this summer so check back often for updates and results.
During qualifying for the Group 8 race on Saturday I was lined up 4th. After the green flag dropped I tried to pass #33 NASCAR on the inside of Turn 1 but realized he didn’t see me and backed off. Going up the hill to Turn 2 I moved to the inside and passed him. I attempted to pass the #25 car also but was too far back for the driver to see me coming. He turned in to Turn 2 and we made contact, spinning us both out.
Following the contact Jeff the CSRG Race Director came to our pits and informed me that I would not be allowed to race anymore that weekend.
In discussing the incident with Jeff and reviewing my in-car I realize that I exercised poor judgement. I ended my conversation with Jeff by telling him I understood why I was not going to be allowed to drive my other car but I wasn’t happy.
As I thought about it later I realized that the reason I wasn’t happy was not because of Jeff’s decision to send me packing but I was unhappy with myself for allowing myself to get into the frame of mind that put my car in a bad position and created the potential for damage to my car and another car.
I realized that I began the session in a very impatient and aggressive frame of mind. I had just qualified my 2002 in 3rd place in Group 9 and had driven perhaps my best lap ever in that car at Sonoma. I knew my M3 was quicker that either of the NASCAR cars I was following and I was impatient to get by them and drive another “miracle” lap. The results of my poor judgement and even poorer mindset speak for themselves. This race weekend was a real wake-up call to me personally, as well as being a very expensive lesson. Nose clips for E30 M3’s don’t come cheap, if you can find one.
I am also in a very unfortunate position after last weekend as I was both the perpetrator and receiver of avoidable contact. My #34 BMW was hit by another car during the Group 9 race while being driven by Jeff Gerken.
I want to commend the Board of CSRG for their decision to clamp down on aggressive driving. As an owner of several valuable cars I have felt that things have gotten out of hand at many events in recent years. There are some events I will not participate in because of the poor level of driving allowed.
CSRG has taken a very brave stance by committing to cleaning up the driving at their events. I would like to respectfully point out to the Board that the only way it will work as we would all hope is for the Board to be as even handed and consistent in applying their standards as possible, no matter who causes an incident. Anything less will cause feelings of resentment, lack of respect for the Board and its decisions, and lower turn out for their races.
Last weekend we traveled down to Sonoma to run the NSU and the K2002 in CSRG’s spring race- The David Love Memorial Races.
CSRG is sponsoring a B sedan series this summer called the John Morton Cup. It seems like every time a sanctioning body puts on a B sedan only race it provides a great spectacle for the public. It is not uncommon to hear, “That was the best race of the weekend.” I hope more vintage groups will schedule some B sedan only races.
For Saturday’s qualifying race I lined up 5th behind Troy Ermish, Jim Froula, Jon Norman, and Dave Stone. John Murray was 6th, and Keith Lippiatt was 7th. It was a nice mix of Datsuns, Alfas, and a bunch of BMWs.
Just before our race a Formula Atlantic car managed to dump its entire dry sump system full of oil all around the track. Just to make it more interesting the driver stayed right on the racing line while the gush occurred. This made for some exciting racing during the opening few laps.
The green flag waved in a cloud of oil dry. The cars at the back of the field were flying pretty blind. My windshield was coated with oily kitty litter by Turn 3. I managed to get by Dave Stone and was running 4th behind Ermish, Froula, and Norman. Going into Turn 11 the first time I was a bit too conservative under braking and John Murray got inside me. As we powered off the turn my engine started to have a slight miss and John pulled past me into 4th.
Behind me Keith Lippiatt and Terry Forland were having a good battle in their BMWs. Terry eventually got by and ran 6th. Henry Schmitt had to start at the back of the field because he only had slicks for his car. He came through the field and finished 12th.
The miss caused me to lose touch with the lead pack so I had a rather lonely race until the checkered flag. My best lap of the weekend was a 1:58.9.
Back in the paddock Jim noticed the left rear wheel had a bit more camber than the right. He jacked up the car and found that the left rear trailing arm had split and cracked. I thought the car felt a little funny but attributed it to all the oil dry on the track.
It meant the car was done for the weekend, but I am very glad we found the problem in the paddock and not going through fast Turn 10! He will be welding reinforcing plates on 2 new trailing arms before the next race.
This event marked the return of the mighty NSU. You may remember that I crashed the car in the wet at Seattle last July. Jim and Ted at Racecraft repaired the car over the winter. It looked good as new sitting in the paddock next to the K2002.
The NSU ran in Group 2 which is made up of small bore production cars and sedans built before 1972. The class is dominated by English cars- Midgets, Minis, Elvas, Austi Healys, TVRs, and Sprites. There are also Morgans, 356 Porsches, and a few Alfa sedans.
I began the weekend taking it a bit easy with the car until I had some confidence that the swing axels weren’t going to bite me again. In the end I qualified 16th out of 34 cars. I was pretty happy with that.
The race went pretty well. I held off an Alfa GTV but was passed by a couple of faster cars that started at the back of the grid. I ended up finishing 17th. My best lap for the weekend was a 2:05.9.
Here’s the video from the weekend. Hope you enjoy it!
We made the trip down to Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca the weekend of March 16-17 for the HMSA Spring Race.
It was a great weekend with lots of sun and fun. We took the Koepchen 2002 and my new Swift DB2 S2000 car for this event.
There were enough S2000 cars so that we had our own group. The 2002 was put in Group 5 which had a couple of other B sedans, an open wheel car, and a bunch of big bore Corvettes, Cobras, and Mustangs.
We made a change to the K2002 over winter that we hoped would make it quicker. We softened the springs from 400 lbs. down to 350 lbs. It made for slightly more body role in the corners but also increased the grip noticeably, as well as making the car feel more into the track.
This was my first drive in the Swift. I do fit in it a whole lot better than I did in the Chevron. There is a lot more leg room and room in the pedal box for my big feet.
I did have a problem during the first practice with the car jumping out of 3rd gear whenever I let off the throttle. Jim tried adjusting the shift linkage in an attempt to fix it. However during the qualifying race on Saturday it was still doing it.
About half way through the race I shifted from 2nd to 3rd coming out of the Corkscrew and 3rd gear stripped completely.
At the end of the day Jim pulled the transmission cover off and found a bunch of teeth and bits in the bottom of the case. We parked the car for the weekend. I did manage a 1:44.6 during the race. Not stellar, but ok for my first time in the car.
I had a much better run in the 2002. The softer springs helped a great deal. My best lap last year at this event was a 1:49.7. My best lap this year was a 1:46.9!
Both races went about the same. I started 2nd in the Saturday qualifying race and finished 3rd. In the feature I started 3rd and finished 3rd. I ran pretty much alone in both.
The only bad thing from the weekend was that our car was vandalized on the way home. We stopped to have breakfast in Willows and while we were eating some low-life smashed the back window in our X5 and stole our son’s backpack. We were happy they didn’t steal any of the cameras, but it still makes you feel violated.
Just a quick update on winter projects. All of this work is being done up at Racecraft by Jim and his fantastic team.
NSU- The repairs are coming along nicely on the NSU. You will remember that I crashed the car in its initial race at Seattle in July. I lost the car in the rain and hit the dirt embankment outside Turn 2.
We were able to find a rusty but useable donor car in Seattle. Who would of thunk it. It had all the bits we needed plus a spare engine and transmission. I was able to donate the rest to a friend who is restoring a street car.
The car will head off to the painter next week!
The spare engine and transmission is up at Ivey Engines in Portland. Jay Ivey is the premier FF engine builder in the country. He will be using his considerable experience to build a hot-rod motor for the NSU. All the go-fast parts are available for these engines in Germany.
Asahi M3- Terry Tinney has completed the rebuild of the S14 engine for the M3. You may remember that we cracked the block during the Rolex Races in Monterey last year. We were able to find a donor block for the car along with a complete race motor. The race motor came from England and will serve as a spare in case we have another problem. The new motor will be shipped up to Racecraft next week and go back into the car.
Swift- A new color wrap is going on the Swift DB2. The new color is turning out beautifully. The guy doing the wrap is tough to keep focused. We have been waiting a couple of weeks for him to come back and put on the accent stripes and numbers. He does great work, but . . .
Luigi CSL- Luigi is getting a new transmission this winter. The original Getrag is getting pretty long in the tooth. I have decided to replace it with an Elite transmission out of England. It is a modern recreation of the old ZF 5 speed but with stronger internals. These transmissions were homologated for the CSL back in the day so it is a legal replacement. It has been ordered and should be to the shop sometime next month.
Street 2002- Terry has been hard at work on the street 2002 he has been building for me. The S14 engine is in the car after some complications. Terry had to fabricate custom engine mounts to get the engine back and lower in the engine bay. One issue when putting an S14 into the 2002 is clearance between the oil pan and the front crossmember. This is solved by fabricating a new oil pan. It also requires moving the engine back to give clearance between the front pulley and the radiator.
The fuel injection guru stopped by the shop last week and went over everything with Terry. Terry has everything we need ordered and once it all gets here he will install it. The FI Guru will then come back and do the fine adjusting.
The #34 2002 is in transit back from SC. Once it is back at Racecraft Jim will swap the transmission with the transmission in the K2002. I won’t be racing the #34 much this coming year. I am thinking about taking it back to its original Hyde Park black and orange livery.
That about wraps up the winter projects. Our first race of the season will be the HMSA Spring Event at Laguna Seca in early March.
Mary and I recently made the trip down to Greer, SC to attend the closing celebration of The ICON exhibit. This exhibit was at the BMW CCA Foundation Museum.
The ICON exhibit celebrated the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the 2002, which is one of BMW’s most loved models.
We flew from Portland to Greenville via Detroit, arriving late Wednesday night. On Thursday we visited several museums and parks in Greenville, including the Upcountry Museum, the Music Museum, and the Falls Park on the Reedy.
When one visits South Carolina one thinks of BBQ so we went looking for the best BBQ in Greenville. We found it at Mac’s Speed Shop- Beer, Bikes & BBQ. It is on South Main Street, and it is fantastic.
Friday morning we went over to the BMW CCA Foundation Museum to check on the car and see if the staff there needed any help getting ready for the coming celebration.
At 1:00 we had a reservation at the Performance Driving Center. They were putting on a special program for those coming for the celebration. After a short orientation meeting we headed out for 3 driving experiences.
The first experience we did was to drive one of the new X5’s on their off-road course. BMW has done an amazing job with this car giving it impressive off-road capabilities while keeping its comfort and cruising personality.
Second we had a chance to challenge for FTD on an autocross course in a new M240i. I really like this car, It seemed to me to be the closest thing to a modern 2002. It is small, light, nimble, and has ample power to give a thrill.
The best came last. We jumped in one of the new M5’s and got to turn some hot laps. What’s not to like about 600 HP, 550 ft/lbs of torque, and 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds? The car handles like one of my race cars! The full-time FWD pulls it through the corners like a freight train. What fun!
Following the driving experiences we had a chance to get the four race cars that were part of the exhibit on the track for some demonstration laps. The cars were driven over from the museum and lined up in the staging area. Each owner took a few minutes to tell about the car and its history. Then we took them on track for some fun.
Saturday morning we had a one hour tour of the factory. The tour began in The Zentrum Visitors Center where a dozen historic BMWs were displayed along with examples of the X cars produced at the factory.
The Spartanburg plant is BMW’s largest manufacturing facility. It produces 370,000 X vehicles a year, 80% of which are exported.
The plant operates as a ‘just-in-time’ manufacturing facility. This means parts for the cars arrive at the assembly line as they are needed, and in sequence. the logistics for all this to happen are mind blowing.
Saturday night was the closing celebration. Just over 200 people packed into the museum to enjoy finger food, drink some good Oregon wine, and listen to the guest speakers. These included Rob Siegal, The Hack Mechanic, Jackie Jouret, Tom Plucinsky from BMW NA, and Andreas Bovensiepen from Alpina.We had a great time and met some wonderful BMW lovers. A special Thank You to Scott Dishman and Michael Mitchell for all their work making this happen.
Our last race of the year was in Austin, Texas at the Circuit of the Americas for SVRA’s Vintage National Championships.
I took my Luigi CSL and the Koepchen 2002 back for this event. SVRA has been promoting a BS championship all year with regional championships culminating in this national event. The CSL ran in Group 12B- the historic GTO/GTU group.
This was our first time at COTA and I must admit it is a world class facility. The one thing that was unexpected was how rough the circuit is in a couple of places, and how low grip the surface is.
Because the BS group was scheduled to run with the GTO/GTU group my CSL was allowed to run with the big block cars on Friday’s practice sessions and Saturday’s qualifying race. This is always a bit nerve racking as those guys can be pretty scary to race with.
For the Feature Race on Sunday I was gridded 4th based on lap times. It was nice of SVRA to do that rather than making me start at the back of the field. I won’t spoil the story but just watch the video for the result.
The BS Group was filled with great cars and determined drivers. Many were from the southeast and had driven COTA before. They had a bit of a ‘home field’ advantage on us. But we still had the best race of the weekend in our Group. here’s the video:
I think this was probably the best race I have driven. I was able to complete the race without any mistakes. The pressure put on my by Tim on that last lap was amazing. He drove a great race, was clean, but didn’t give me a moments rest. Thanks Tim!
I want to especially thank Mary for her support and the great trackside video she gets every race.
I also want to thank the Crew from Racecraft. They are such professionals, and at the same time they make this so much fun!
In July I ran my M3 and 2002 at the SVRA sanctioned Portland Vintage Racing Festival. The M3 ran in Group 12A, and the 2002 in Group 8.
It’s always interesting to see how the various race groups are made up. The sanctioning body, in this case SVRA, tries to make up the groups as best as it can from the entries they receive for an event.
For this weekend Group 12A had a real mix of interesting cars. There were some Big Block Corvettes, Cobras, Trans-Am sedans, NASCAR cars, along with a couple of prototype cars, tube frame GT cars, and my M3.
On Saturday’s Qualifying race I qualified 7th and had a great race with Cameron Healy in his RSR Porsche. We ran nose to tail until he had a motor issue and had to pull off. I finished 4th.
For the Saturday Feature race I had to make a good start as I was surrounded by big block cars. The M3 is very quick but it does not have much torque so I was worried they would get the jump on me going down to Turn 1. Was able to keep them behind me and went on to finish 4th with my best lap of the weekend, a 1:24.9.
Jim Froula, who won on Saturday, didn’t start on Sunday so I started 3rd behind a 427 Corvette and a 427 Cobra. Outside of me was the #33 Skoal Bandit NASCAR Lumina. Again I had to make a fast start or they would eat me alive before we got down to Turn 1.
I am able to hold off the Lumina and finish 3rd over-all, and 1st in class with a best lap of 1:25.1.
My 2002 ran in Group 8. this is a really fun Group to run in. It is made up of mid-bore sedans and sports cars so there is always close racing.
For the Feature race I started 9th. The first lap was pretty wild and woolly! I was gridded inside my old friend Hans Guttman in his 242 Volvo and just behind Paul Gladio’s 911. There was also a bunch of Lotus 7’s in the mix. We swapped places back and forth for the entire race. It was a lot of fun.
I ended up finishing 9th over-all and 3rd in BS with a best lap of 1:29.5. Here’s the video, hope you enjoy it!
Photos courtesy of Bill Wagenblatt at: http://historicmotorprints.com